Fast Break Basketball

The Fast Break for many teams is a significant element to their scoring make-up. For many teams thought this element is undervalued as a part of their scoring spectrum. Many teams focus on the other phases of basketball without fully appreciating the benefits of broken play basketball.

Justin Stommes taking off on the fast break
Taking off on the fast break (Photo credit: rburtzel)

Fast break basketball is all about automated responses from your players. To be really successful at the break phase in any offense, your players must be drilled to the point where they feel they can play intuitively and instinctively make decisions while on the run.


Even though broken play offense happens in any number of different scenarios and situations there is still a wide range of drills which can be implemented within training sessions to help build efficiency and effectiveness in this phase of your offense. What is very important to any fast break drill or series of drills is to make sure the execution of the activity is done at game pace or at least as fast as your players can go. This will have an effect on the technical performance of the various skills, but this is very much the situation that happens in games.


During break situations that occur in games the offense is often out of control for some of the play at the very least. As a coach you should be wary of trying to control everything that happens on the floor as this can rob your players of their instinctive nature. Broken play offense at least on some level, is an instinctive exploit. What should be drilled and hopefully refined is the ability for your players to make the right read more often and increase their efficiency in scoring.


As a coach be sure to accept mistakes, and always with unrelenting persistence demand your team’s broken play offense is executed at pace. The technique of performing passes and controlling the dribble on every bounce of ball will come once your players become comfortable with the pace of the offense.


Secondly, your rehearsal of any fast break scenario or situation needs to be performed in a competitive environment. This has a two way benefit; it helps your offensive players deal with pressure on the ball which is mostly a guaranteed element of the majority of fast break situations. Additionally, this will help you team defensively to become better at reading and stopping fast break offense opportunities. As the defence becomes better you will also see an improvement in offense your team will need to play get the score.


So what makes a good fast break basketball player? Well the first thing to realise is that often the scoring player in a fast break situation is regularly off the ball. The ball carrier that initially makes the steal or is the outlet for the offense mostly looks to pass ahead to a player in a better scoring position. There are a number of traits that make up an ideal fast break player off the ball. These include:


  1. Quick reaction time
  2. Agility
  3. Willingness to run
  4. Maintain vision of the ball


These elements while not everything to a fast break player’s technical or tactical make-up are the most important point especially in the initial stages of developing the fast break.


Players will need to react quickly to when the situation for a break happens. Players with a quick reaction time will not need two or three steps to slow down before turning and starting off on the fast break. These players will see the fast break opportunity unfold and be able to move step for step with any other player on the floor both offensive and defensive.


Agility helps player to be able to make the sharp and sudden changes of direction often need at the start of a fast break. Agility will also assist players off the ball who are in the fast break to be able to change direction, avoid defenders and create open driving lanes to the basket.


A key point which is at the core of a good fast break player is they must display a willingness to run. For players this is the number one trait need to be successful. If a player runs hard and is at pace as soon as possible they will inevitably be either guarded, or open it is that simple during a fast break.


The final trait for a capable effective break basketball player is the ability to maintain vision of the ball. By having vision the player is more likely to see the options that are presented while moving up the floor. This vision helps the running player move into a direct passing lane with the ball handler and also allows the player to react quickly on a pass to them.


Fast break basketball can be a vital part of your team’s offensive make-up. Taking the time to break this aspect down should be one of the first and most consistent elements of a training session.

Coach Riches has been working within the sport, business and education industries for many years. During this time he has built an extensive number of formal and informal qualifications. A firm believer in training and development designed to help people reach their full potential, relevant o their needs and functional to their industry environment.

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